Dec 212013

I watched Marrying Me last night, and found it quite compelling (at time of writing, there are three shows left! I’m not really much in a position to talk extensively about a musical as a whole. My thoughts are usually mostly about the core story and it’s treatment.

Marrying Me will resonate with anyone who’s been asked by an aunty at any Hari Raya / Chinese New Year / Deepavali / wedding / etc etc, “Married already ah?” “Eh, why you not yet married?”

The major question the musical asks is: Do we need to be married to be happy? I think the approach the writers took is fairly open-minded, taking into consideration modern politically correct views, the importance of tradition and the reality of familial pressure.

I was impressed that I really could not predict how the story would end. I think this reflects faithfully how all the factors in the equation might affect someone in the protagonist’s position, pushing and pulling her in a maelstrom of agonising dilemma. Thrown into the mix is a nice guy with whom she has a long history, her principles and work with a women’s NGO, and her doting mother’s insistence on marriage.

I enjoy works of art that are able to effectively present a situation with no easy answers, and characters facing ‘damned if I do, damned if I don’t’ challenges, and I think Marrying Me gets there. The characters go through difficult, emotionally exhausting journeys, and emerge with conclusions that I think resonate with those of us who have been through similar journeys – always a nice thing to experience in literature.

Some of the other themes explored that struck me as very meaningful include the effects of carrying around hate and resentment for years, the dynamics of single parent families, and domestic abuse. I respect that the writers ventured into such rocky territory.

The musical is not of course all doom and gloom. It has a lot of humour written into it, much of which I LOL’ed at. Some jokes were funnier than others, and we were also hit with a double dose of the effeminate man trope, which may have been a little much; by the end though, both of said men played a significant role overall.

I might have edited the story in some parts, with hopes of making it tighter, but that applies to most work I experience. The musical as a whole could also perhaps stand to be a little shorter. As a dramedy, it might worth exploring how to ensure the distance between drama and comedy does not become so wide that traversing it detracts from the piece overall.

I enjoyed some of the songs, and the people I went with seemed to think many were well sung. I understand there were many newcomers in the cast, and I think they did quite well too.

In any case, don’t take my word/s for it – go watch it yourself! :)

May 102013

I know it’s disheartening and demoralising.

I’ve engaged in very few such internal partisan affairs in my time writing. I did this time, because it mattered too much.

We thirst after unity, I know; and we swallowed a whole lot in order to present that united front going into GE 13.

Now is another time. Now we must look inside and straighten what is crooked, and fix what is broken, well before the next general elections.

Know your author

When you read anyone’s writing, it’s important to know the background of the author. Let me try to be honest and forthcoming.

My company has done work for the Selangor state government for about 2 and a half years now. If you’d like to know how much I’m paid, some of the pro-Azmin cyberpeople have put out some figures. I am not sure exactly how much people my age with similar background/qualifications are paid, but I’m guessing it’s not far off.

I’m not a member of TSKI’s staff, and have actually never had a serious discussion with him since starting work. I report to his staff, who are my colleagues and friends, and who – while also not perfect – I have come to respect, especially in terms of their professionalism.

If Azmin did become MB, I would not seek to continue my work with the state government. Losing one’s job is never nice, but I have to admit, it would be far, far from the first time I have been technically unemployed over the last 10 years. It’s not unfamiliar territory for me.

You will have to decide for yourselves whether you feel my objectivity is compromised for any reasons of personal gain.

What I have already written has resulted in angry accusations from many whom I very recently considered old friends. I won’t pretend to be stronger than I am, that experience was hurtful and very sad.

I thought about stopping.

Then I thought about it some more. I finally figured – if I give in to fear now…. Well, they said in that movie: “If you start running, they’ll never let you stop.”

No to bullies.

Why does this matter at all?

Who will the next candidate for PM be, post-Anwar?

In Malaysia, the head of the primary party in the winning coalition is conventionally given the post of PM.

The battle over the MB-ship is a prelude to the next PKR party elections.

Those elections will likely decide which breed of leaders will lead PKR into GE 14.

What does Khalid vs. Azmin represent?

I want to be upfront here. Using html-inspired styling, I want to indicate where I am writing Just My Opinion, instead of pretending they are facts etc. People are free to evaluate and judge for themselves.

[Just My Opinion]

All men have their weaknesses and strengths.

Khalid is not a particularly charismatic speaker (though when he gets started on things that he is passionate about….), he holds very firmly to his beliefs and is not easily persuaded unless faced with solid facts and figures. I’m sure more than a few people have described him as ‘stubborn’.

I would say his first strength is his fervent belief in doing the right thing. My impression is that as a believe in being a gentleman, he would never endure the undignified ugliness that often comes with politics if not for the fact that it is politicians who are ruining our country, and who must be replaced.

In his time as MB, I have watched him ignore excessively political/petty considerations in favour of working hard to improve & empower the civil service, displaying a religious fervor in ensuring prudent financial management, and prioritising policies that actually make a difference in the lives of an every day man.

That of course, is my opinion and interpretation of his work. It would be best if you examined the evidence, and made your own conclusions.

Umno style feudalism


For the statesman, every deed is measured to give a better life to the rakyat.

For the politician, every word is measured to get more votes from the rakyat.

Azmin choses his words as well as any leader this country has seen. If only he chose his principles half as well, we would have quite a statesman.

Khalid spent his life managing and building organisations. Azmin spent his life politicking. The difference shows.

I have often described Azmin’s politics as feudal.

By this I mean I feel he spends the great bulk of his time putting loyalists into positions of power.

Look at all the people who stood behind him on his Friday PC. Those of you who follow politics more closely will be in a better position to judge: are those candidates who were likely chosen on the basis of merit and performance record? Or on the basis of loyalty to their boss?

Does their track record of service and performance in parliament match their track record of loyalty?

Azmin strikes me as the kind of man who spends his time on the only two feudal priorities that matter: a) recruiting loyalists (however inept) who follow lords instead of principles, and who will help him rise to power, and b) finding ways to feed those loyalists with resources and positions of power.

As you can imagine the MB of Selangor has a lot of opportunities to ‘feed’ people. The fact that Khalid is having none of blind financing of party people is certain to create a group of party people who are discontent with him – for, in my humble view, all the wrong reasons.

And look at this whole Friday PC fiasco.

Rumours of a real leader with integrity jumping ship would never even have been taken seriously, much less become an internet phenomenon. Real leaders do not need to play out some elaborate, attention-seeking farce of a drama, with little real content beyond a few sulky jibes.

Real leaders spend their time working, not politicking.

By their fruits…

Another thing I invite you to scrutinise is the nature of a leader’s supporters.

Play close attention to the things they say, and the tone that they take.

See whether or not they spend their time engaging in discussion, or in attacking others.

Compare whose are emotional, and whose are level-headed.

I have often noted that a full time career in politics tends to compromise somewhat one’s abilities to take a step back, separate emotion from reason, and treat one another civilly. It is one of the sad effects of the pressures of the job.

[/Just My Opinion]

Moving forward

Azmin has taken a cue directly from Najib’s book, in wasting no time in going from general elections mode, to party elections mode.

He has fired the first shot, and so be it. Let them come.

I can’t pretend to be inspired by the silence of so many PKR leaders people (like myself) held in such high esteem (maybe we should give them the benefit of the doubt for what may be behind the scenes work), but I hope they too will overcome whatever fears they may have soon.

In the end, the next top leaders of the party, and potential top leaders of the country, will soon be determined by PKR members, past, present and future.

It’s a dirty job, but if you and I don’t do it, then people like Azmin will overrun us all.

May 042013

I predict we will win.

I spent almost every day of the year taking the stance that our role is to shape the outcome of the elections, not to predict its results.

This one day, I will indulge.

I guesstimate scenario A, the most likely, to be a convincing PR victory. 55% of seats or upwards.

I would go so far to say as there might be a BN candidate or two who will lose his/her deposit.

Should such an overwhelming victory come to pass, I am guessing that the transition will actually be peaceful, not unlike in 2008.

The less likely Scenario B I guesstimate to consist of a narrow PR victory or near hung parliament.

In those circumstances, I expect a huge effort by BN to buy over MPs, and to throw the kitchen sink at everything and everyone in a desperate, last ditch attempt to hang on to power.

In this scenario, we need to play our cards very carefully.

Under no circumstances should BN be allowed to steal a victory. In our eagerness to ensure this however, we must be strategic and prudent in our approach. We must walk the fine line between firmness and vigilantism.

If there is clear evidence of cheating or treacherous attempts to steal the election, we will take to the streets if we must, but we must do so peacefully. Non-violent resistance is the only path to success.

I expect Sunday itself to be a very high strung day. It seems almost impossible that there will be no reports of suspicious behaviour at polling centres, and the situation is likely to get tense.

For those of us on the internet, I think the most important thing to do is to try and get verification before spreading anything, and to not let our excitement overtake our objectivity.

The battle between accurate information and misinformation will be as important as any other over the next 48 hours.

I have a suspicion that May 5th will unfortunately not see the end of BN’s brand of politics and shenanigans.

Something tells me that we have not seen the end of sex videos, for starters.

I put no stock in rumors of sex videos of PKR vice presidents or Menteri Besars.

Nevertheless, I get a feeling that there are a number of cards that have not been played yet.

The bad guys may be waiting for the exact right moment (just prior to deciding or swearing in the Prime Minister perhaps?) to unleash their final assault, with the aim of creating disarray, and a political crisis that they will somehow try and bend back to their unholy goals.

Whatever happens, try to keep a level head, and do what you can to hold the new members of parliament accountable.

I think we will win because the rot that has taken root in BN has run to deep. So deep that it has gone beyond hope of reform, and so deep that even the most skilled spin doctors can no longer hide it.

We’re almost there, brothers and sisters. Hand in hand, let’s take that great leap into the future!

May 022013

photo source: Harakah


Andalah penentu segalanya.

Ramai yang sudahpun memutuskan undi mereka akan ke siapa. Hanya segelintir lagi yang masih belum berbuat demikian, dan di tangan andalah terletak masa depan kita semua.

Dalam mempertimbangkan pilihan kita, izinkan saya bandingkan situasi yang kita hadapi dengan menggunakan perumpamaan pasaraya Tesco dan Giant.

Apabila hanya ada Tesco di kawasan kita, adakah Tesco mempunyai motivasi untuk rendahkan harga mereka atau memberi perkhidmatan yang baik?

Sekiranya kita tiada pilihan dan selalu terpaksa pergi ke Tesco, pemilik Tesco boleh bertindak sesuka hati, dari segi penentuan harga barang dan cara pelanggan dilayan.

Pelanggan yang tiada pilihan adalah pelanggan yang tiada kuasa.

Semakin lama Tesco sahaja yang dibenarkan menjual barang di kawasan kita, semakin buruklah layanan mereka terhadap kita, para pelanggan. Akan tetapi, sekiranya Giant membuka pintu di kawasan yang sama, situasi akan jauh berbeza.

Pada peringkat awal, mungkin pelanggan segan untuk mencuba benda yang baru. Tetapi, sekiranya semakin ramai pelanggan pergi ke Giant, Tesco pasti akan terasa.

Sekarang, Tesco tidak boleh lagi bertindak sesuka hati, kerana pelanggan yang tidak puas hati dengan senangnya boleh sahaja pergi ke Giant untuk mendapatkan barang keperluan mereka.

Selagi ada lebih daripada satu pilihan, kedua-dua Tesco dan Giant akan selalu bersaing antara sendiri untuk merendahkan harga, melayan pelanggan dengan lebih baik, memberi tawaran serta ganjaran yang lebih menarik, dan sebagainya.

Mana-mana pihak yang gagal berbuat sedemikian sudah tentu akan kehilangan semua pelanggan mereka.

Dalam sejarah Malaysia, kita hanya pernah ada “Tesco”. Walaupun mungkin baik pada awalnya, jiwanya sudah semakin tercemar akibat terlalu lama menikmati monopoli kuasa.

Pada saat bersejarah ini, bakal muncullah pesaing yang baru.

Sekiranya Tesco dipilih dan kita menolak permohonan Giant untuk membuka kedai mereka, apa yang akan Tesco faham adalah: kita boleh buat sesuka hati, rakyat akan tetap pilih kita.

Sekiranya Giant dipilih, apa yang Giant akan faham adalah: rakyat telah beri satu peluang pertama ini kepada kami. Jika kami gagal, sudah pasti mereka tidak akan pilih kami lagi.

Rakyat yang tiada pilihan adalah rakyat yang tiada kuasa.

Giant ini bukanlah sempurna, dan pemimpinnya bukanlah semua alim dan berintegriti.

Walaubagaimanapun, mereka telah membuktikan diri dalam pengurusan beberapa negeri yang telah mula nampak ada pembaharuan dan pembaikan. Semakin banyak diberi balik kepada rakyat untuk memenangi hati dan minda, dan persaingan antara Tesco dan Giant semakin sengit. Hasilnya, rakyat yang untung.

Siapa pun yang kita pilih, kita mesti selalu mengingatkan Giant mahupun Tesco: “Kuasa di tangan rakyat – siapa yang kami angkat, kami boleh turunkan kembali, sepertimana yang kami turunkan kali ini. Sempurnakanlah amanah dan peluang yang diberikan, atau sediakanlah diri untuk dipecat lagi.”

Demi anak cucu kita, kita mesti sedia dan berani mengambil kesempatan ini untuk mematangkan demokrasi Malaysia, dan mengembalikan negara kita ke tangan rakyat.

Nathaniel Tan

Of Tesco and Giant: An open letter to undecided voters

My fellow Malaysians,

You hold the future of our nation in the palm of your hands.

Many of us have already decided who we will be voting for, but those few of us who have not will be the ones who really determine our future.

It’s understandable if in this mess that is Malaysian politics, no clear choice emerges.

For an undecided voter at this point, we might perhaps assume that both coalitions have some measure of appeal.

There are a large number of differences between the two coalitions, but if we think about the bigger picture, the biggest difference between the two is that one has been in power for all of our nation’s existence.

It is as if for all time, our neighbourhood has had only one Tesco, and no other supermarket. As in all monopolies, the lack of choice for the consumer inevitably means higher prices and terrible service.

Today, for what is in effect the first time ever, we have the opportunity to allow Giant to open its doors in our neighbourhood.

Viable competition creates immediate ripples: both competitors suddenly trip over themselves in trying to reduce prices, offer rewards, and provide better service.

Customer satisfaction means nothing to a business without competitors, it means everything to a business that must beat its competition to survive. A consumer without options is a consumer without power.

As we face the upcoming choice between Tesco and Giant, let us reflect on the message our vote sends.

A vote for Tesco communicates to the powers that be that no matter how bad things get, we will stay with you. The more votes Tesco gets, the more complacent we can expect them to be in the future.

Giant, being the new kid on the block, cannot be expected to have the same outlook. They know that those who vote for them are taking a big leap of faith, and will very, very quickly reverse their support should they fail to perform. Even if they do not come to power, a vote for Giant also signals to Tesco that they should not take their customers for granted.

A citizen without options is a citizen without power.

Tesco is probably not all evil. It is no longer the same Tesco it was when it opened 57 years ago however. Being a monopoly for too long changes anybody and anything.

I think all of us have experienced in some form of another what happens when any person or group is left in power for too long.

Power is a being onto itself. The wise understand that power shapes us more than we shape power. The longer we ride the tiger that is power, the more it is that the tiger decides our course, not us; and that course is usually the course of increasing internal rot.

If there is hope for Tesco to reform, they must dismount their mad tiger first, and those who have sat too long in power must be pushed out, for it is not something given up easily.

We do not expect Giant to be all saintly and a model corporation every step of the way. We can however expect them to bring a fresh approach and a more ardent desire to do right by their customers. When they do wrong, it will fall to us to give them sharp reminders of how to do right.

Change can always be frightening, but the time has come for Malaysians to abandon their fears and take charge of their own fates.

Now is the time – the time not to install one tyrant in place of another, but to affirm our democratic right to change the government whenever we see fit. Malaysians need to feel that their ability to do so is real, and not paper theory.

Once we empower ourselves, there will be no turning back – never again will our governments take us for granted, and never again will we surrender to an unworthy few our power to form a better Malaysia.

Nathaniel Tan

May 012013

Come historic 5/5/13, genaplah 7 months I’ve neglected the blog. Every time I do so, I say I’m sorry. What can I say but: sorry again!

A lot of things have changed, and some of them changed yet again.

But that’s a story for another day perhaps. On to the elections!

Aug 272012

Alright, let’s get this straight/summarised:

Joshua Trevino is a staunchly pro-Israel conservative columnist who once worked as a speechwriter for George W. Bush – you know, the guy that bombed the hell out of Iraq in search of WMD that were… well, not there.

One telling quote:

When boats carrying unarmed civilian activists attempted in June 2011 to break the blockade of Gaza, Treviño tweeted out a message to the Israeli army: “Dear IDF: If you end up shooting any Americans on the new Gaza flotilla — well, most Americans are cool with that. Including me.”

Trevino has been fired from his position as a columnist with prominent British paper The Guardian. (Do read the full TMI article)


Being involved with (now defunct?) website called Malaysia Matters, which appears to have been dedicated to Anwar bashing. Word is that this was through FBC Media – that storied company paid to try and put a fake gleam on Malaysia’s tarnished record, and subsequently suspended by the BBC.

At least the British seem to know when to drop a bad egg.

Also worth asking, just so we don’t get more and more confused: do you BN people want us to believe that Anwar is pro-Israel or anti-Israel?

Just saying, I’m losing track here – all this agen Yahudi business, but then hiring Zionists to bash Anwar?

If you’re as tired as I am from this tirade, please feel free to peruse the much more amusingly cut video by MediaRakyat:

Aug 212012

Eid Mubarak! :)

Maaf zahir dan batin, termasuk kerana lambat upload posting ini.

Hari Raya ini masa untuk mengenang semua keluarga dan rakan-rakan yang dikasihi, serta mereka yang kurang bernasib. Insyallah, kita akan menggiatkan usaha untuk mengingati dan membela semua yang memerlukannya.

Salam Aidilfitri!